P&G’s Tide enlists celebrity ‘cold callers’ for sustainability push

Dive Brief:

  • Procter & Gamble’s Tide detergent brand is promoting the environmental benefits of washing clothes in cold water with a campaign starring rapper Ice-T and wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, per information emailed to Marketing Dive. The effort includes several spots showing the duo making cold calls to celebrities like Annie Murphy and Mark Messier to save money on their energy bills by using cold water.
  • Other celebrities involved in the effort include Mr. T and rapper Vanilla Ice. P&G is working with Saatchi & Saatchi NY on the campaign, which is part of Tide’s broader #TurnToCold effort. The spots are running across broadcast TV, online video, digital, social, radio and in-store.
  • The “Tide Cold Caller” campaign, which shows Tide having some fun with purpose-driven marketing while still remaining on-message for the brand, coincides with the release of Tide’s 2030 Ambition pledge to decrease its carbon footprint. The sustainability push includes a focus on how consumers use Tide to reduce energy use, per a separate announcement from March 18.

Dive Insight:

The “Tide Cold Caller” campaign uses humor to make a point about how people can cut their energy bills and help the environment by washing clothes with Tide in cold water. Tide hopes to grab attention by featuring well-known celebrities like Ice-T and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, whose names are associated with the word “cold,” while spoofing cold calls by showing that even celebrities receive and dislike the unsolicited sales calls.

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A spot starring Mr. T also includes a co-branding effort with Hanes, the maker of T-shirts, underwear and socks. P&G and Hanes last month began a multiyear partnership to promote the idea of washing clothes in cold water.

The campaign’s broad media strategy points to how the brand is supporting its recent sustainability pledge by encouraging consumers to do their part. While Tide claims it has cut greenhouse gas emissions at its factories by 75% in the past decade, more than two-thirds of emissions happen at the consumer-use part of what P&G describes as the “laundry lifecycle.” By urging consumers to wash three out of four loads of laundry in cold water, the goal is to reduce emissions by 4.25 million metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road for a year, according to the company.

“The climate emergency we face needs urgent action from everyone,” Shailesh Jejurikar, CEO of fabric and home care at P&G, said in a statement. “Switching from hot to cold water reduces energy use by up to 90% and can save Americans up to $150 a year.”

Tide’s cause-driven campaign can help to reinforce positive feelings toward the brand among consumers who want to buy products aligned with their values. About half (49%) of consumers said they view brand activism positively, with 17% having a negative view and 34% remaining neutral, according to a survey by market research firm Piplsay. More than half (58%) of consumers said such actions have affected their purchasing behavior or impression of a brand, the study found.

P&G also seeks to maintain sales momentum for Tide after seeing strong growth last year as consumers became more mindful about hygiene during the pandemic. The company’s fabric and home care category, which includes Tide and Dawn dishwashing soap, saw a 12% gain in sales on 7% growth in volume — a gap that suggests its brands had strong pricing power. P&G boosted its spending on marketing by 7% from a year earlier in Q4 amid that higher demand.

The “Tide Cold Caller” campaign shows the marketer adeptly merging humor with sustainability while remaining on message for the brand, something that has proven challenging for some other marketers. Earlier this week, Volkswagen tried to have some fun with its electric vehicle push by pretending it had changed its name to Voltswagen, an effort that may have undermined the sustainability messaging more than helped it because of the brand’s preexisting reputation for misleading consumers.

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